From Mexico to Bocas del Toro, Panama with a pit stop in Costa Rica

Greetings from below sea-level! #Panama #diving

A photo posted by ThatWanderlust (@renaterigters) on

Tomorrow our IDC (PADI’s Instructor Development Course) was supposed to start. Here, at Playa del Carmen – Mexico, things didn’t go as planned, so we have to make a decision.

Basically we have two options. We can either;

1. stay with the current dive center in Playa del Carmen, even though the original course director won’t come to teach us during the course. We accept being taught by the replacement and other crew members. Still having to pay a lot more money for the course than elsewhere, but have it all already organized and staying comfy.


2. move to another location to do the IDC with another dive center. Possibly get a better deal on the IDC, enjoy a more relaxed location with less city life and choose our own new course director. We would have to wait another few weeks for the IDC to start elsewhere, but there we can do free diving in the meanwhile.

We had about 1,5 day to make up our minds while comparing many dive centers. After talking to other course directors and us two just discussing our feelings about the current situation we finally choose our best option.

We’re going to put our Panama hats on.

We’ve decided that staying here with the replacement course director was not our best option and that we should move elsewhere. After talking to a lot of IDC centers we choose to move to Bocas del Toro!

Diving in Bocas del Toro

I got my PADI Open Water certification in Bocas del Toro – Panama, in spring ’14 and we were there again last March. The quality of the local diving and the relaxed vibe on the island are great. We have never been diving with the specific IDC center before, but it feels right. The course director has been in touch with us a lot and has been very understanding for our situation.

Someone’s sad for eating her last chilaquiles for this time πŸ’‹ #chilaquiles #mexico #mexicanfood

A photo posted by β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €β €Thom Mattsson (@thompakt) on

Traveling from Mexico to Costa Rica.

Today we’re flying to Costa Rica first! As the course won’t start until the middle of February we still have some time left to do absolutely nothing πŸ˜‰ This also gave us the time to find the cheap way, or better said “the cheapest way”, into Bocas del Toro. Buying a flight from Cancun to Panama with stops and having to fly again from Panama City to Bocas del Toro was not the most convenient nor the cheapest. Flying to San Jose, Costa Rica however, did make sense.

Normally we’d just continue with the local buses, but we found a shuttle bus company, called Caribe Shuttle, that offers a pretty comfy ride wherever you need to go in Costa Rica and even over the border! From San Jose airport we’ll take their shuttle bus service to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. We’ll be staying for a few days at my most favorite place there – the Lazy Loft! It is a big hostel, with live music almost every night, located right on the beach.

and to Panama.

After a few days of enjoying Puerto Viejo, we’ll continue with the Caribe Shuttle bus to Bocas del Toro. The last time I had to cross the border there I had to cross a bridge and I literally walked out of one country into another. Once we reach the port town of Almirante in Panama the only thing left to do is to get on the boat and step onto the main island of Bocas del Toro – isla Colon.

We will start our course in Panama on the 16th of February and we’ll leave Mexico today.

How was your IDC experience? What would you have done? Have you ever traveled from Mexico to Panama?

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Ever since I left my home country I felt at home at any other place I went to. I enjoy getting to know more cultures by talking to strangers and hearing their philosophy about life. Speaking with gestures when you can not find a shared language, finding places only the locals go to and learn about their customs and values. Hanging out with local people makes me happy. The experience of every new place is a step out of your comfort zone where I like to wander around until it feels like a second home.
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